Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-7-2021


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Waganesh Zeleke, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Debra Hyatt-Burkhart, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Matthew Joseph, Ph.D.


Perinatal Mental Wellness; Pregnancy; Birth; Maternal Mental Health


Globally, there are certain expectations surrounding becoming a mother related to pregnancy and the birth. For many women, the birth of a child represents a natural event filled with joy. Societally, the expectation is that pregnancy, birth, and the transition into motherhood are normal, positive experiences for all women (Davis-Floyd & Cheyney, 2019). However, research shows that some women develop impairments in physical and mental health functioning and wellbeing as a result of the major physical and psychosocial changes that take place during the transition into motherhood (Austin et al., 2010; Ayers & Pickering, 2001; O’Hara et al., 2014).

This study is designed to provide a starting point for understanding the concept of perinatal mental wellness in the context of the culture of the United States and strategies that support mental wellness during the perinatal period. The focus of this study is to meaningfully define perinatal mental wellness, explore how wellness is supported during the perinatal period, and explore strategies that that could provide increased support for perinatal mental wellness.

The data analysis indicated four categories including perinatal mental wellness; factors supporting perinatal mental wellness; factors not supporting perinatal mental wellness; and systemic change. Additionally, the data analysis clarified the meaning of perinatal mental wellness. Perinatal mental wellness in the context of this study means mental readiness for birth and the changes to come via mental healthcare provided alongside physical healthcare throughout the perinatal period. The final model that emerged from the data suggests that the systemic change themes could be used as strategies implemented within the existing perinatal care model in order to promote perinatal mental wellness among mothers in the United States. These findings align with other research findings from countries throughout Europe and findings from Australia.